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Posts Tagged ‘Strong Movie Recommendation’

The Age Of Adaline” (2015)  —  movie review
This movie is a SciFi-Fantasy / Drama / Romance movie starring: Blake Lively as Adaline Bowman; Michiel Huisman as Ellis Jones; Harrison Ford as William Jones (Ellis’ father and 1960’s lover of Adaline); Kathy Baker as Kathy Jones (Ellis’ mother); and, Ellen Burstyn as Flemming Bowman (Adaline’s daughter).
Adaline is born on New Year’s Day in 1908.  She grows up, marries, becomes widowed and is then in a car crash / lightening strike which she survives (altered) with the gift of immortality.  She is stuck at 29 years old for another 80 (odd) years.  In order to avoid discovery, she moves every few years, changes her name and avoids close relationships.  Meanwhile, her daughter – Flemming – grows up and eventually ages into an old woman.
Shoot to the present (2015) and Adaline (now called Jenny) attends a New Year’s Party and meets Ellis Jones.  Over the next few days they fall madly in love and blah, blah, blah – lots of Hallmark moments.
Ellis invites Jenny to meet his parents and “it’s a small world, after all”, Ellis’ father (William Jones) is a former flame of Jenny’s (Adaline’s) from 50 years ago.  More blah, blah, blah.  Adaline’s “true” identity is discovered by William.  Jenny / Adaline flees the house, is in a car accident, blah, blah, blah… Jenny / Adaline is saved and reverted to a “normal” (i.e. aging) person, … and happily ever after.
So, is this movie any good?  Does it work as a SciFi-Fantasy?  Does it work as a Drama / Romance?  To paraphrase “Gladiator“: was I not entertained?  Yes.  Well, okay.  Yes.  And, yes.  SciFi-Fantasy doesn’t really have to make sense.  It just has to offer a reason to get from “A” to “B”.  It does.  And, then it gets you from “B” back to “A” at the end of the movie.  It doesn’t matter how realistic it (the science) is.  Only that they tried to give an explanation.
Drama / Romance?  Yes.  It’s a simple Hallmark – meet, fall in love, test of love, love wins out, happily ever after movie, and, I’m good with that.  I didn’t really know what to expect going in, but as these movies go, it wasn’t bad.  In fact, yes, I was entertained.  Yes, both Lively and Huisman are very attractive and good in their roles, but I particularly liked Ford, Baker and Burnstyn in their roles.  They sold, if not carried, the movie for me.
Final recommendation: Strong recommendation.  Two young, beautiful people fall madly in love and live happily ever after.  What’s not to like?  A final note: there is a satellite shot that pans from outer space into California, then the Bay Area, then San Francisco which I’ve dreamed of for decades.  It was nice to FINALLY see it in a movie!  I’d have given the movie a good review for that shot alone.
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On This Day In:
2018 Seeking To Make A Difference
2017 Happy BD, Bec!
2016 BD Quotes
2015 Princess
2014 Optional
2013 Happy Birthday, Rebecca
2012 Be Not Old
2012 National League Western Division Champions!!!
2011 What Kind Of Work Do You Do?
2010 Another Loser… And Come November

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Continuing in my pursuit of viewing all things “Pride & Prejudice“, I offer two more tangential movie reviews: “Pride & Prejudice & Zombies” and “Austenland” and a third made for TV series: “Lost in Austen“.  The reviews are in the order I watched them, not in preference or year of release.  Because this post covers three “films”, it will be considerably longer than normal.  Feel free to skip it and come back another time if you’re not “into” P&P.
Lost in Austen” (2008) – TV Series 4 part on YouTube
This is a four part TV mini-series for a privately owned (not-BBC) channel in England called ITV.  The movie is a rom-com adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Pride & Prejudice” book, but is really kind of a “Back to the Future” (back to reality?) feel.  Basically, the lead (Amanda Price, played by Jemima Rooper) is so in love with the book, she stumbles into it through a portal in her bathroom.  She retains all of her knowledge of the book and Elizabeth Bennet (played by Gemma Arterton) “replaces” her in our time.  Basically, what happens in a romance story if you know all the story but as soon as you join the story, the story is irrevocably altered.  Mostly, comedy (and romance) ensues.
The rest of the main characters are: Elliot Cowan as Fitzwilliam Darcy, Tom Mison as Mr Bingley, Morven Christie as Jane Bennet, Tom Riley as George Wickham, Hugh Bonneville as Mr. Claude Bennet, and Alex Kingston as Mrs. Bennet.
Once you know the premise, the TV-series is 70-80% predictable.  Given that, I still enjoyed it.  Rooper is not brilliant, but she carries the load and does it more than adequately.  Cowan is not “my” idea of Mr. Darcy, but he’s not bad.  Strike that.  He is better than most.  He is stern and formal without being Hollywood handsome.  And then he comes out of the pond…  LoL!  Adequate is true with the rest of the cast with the exception of Bonneville.  For whatever reason (mostly “Downton Abbey“, I think), I really like him as an actor and I thought he is very good as Mr. Bennet adding depth which is not always in some of the other portrayals in other versions of P&P.
The series uses the characters from P&P and kind-of follows the novel’s plot, but has (and ends with) significant variance.  Final recommendation: strong.  If you are a “P&P” fan, I think you’ll enjoy this series as an addition / alternate universe to Austen’s P&P.  If not, it is at least tolerable as rom-coms go.  I found it better than “tolerable”, but that may just be my taste.  If you are not a “P&P” or rom-com fan, why are you even bothering to read this review? (Just kidding…)
I watched this on YouTube for free and I would definitely consider buying it if it ever came out in my price range ($5).  Each episode is about 40-45 minutes, so you are looking at almost three hours of viewing commitment.
Pride & Prejudice & Zombies” (2016)
I know that “everything” goes better with Zombies these days, but I really didn’t know what to expect before viewing this version of P&P.  I need to preface this review with a comment: I am not a horror or slasher film watcher.  Mostly, I find them repetitive, boring, or offensive. I stopped watching them about 1977 or so.  I very occasionally will touch base with one if it becomes a “societal” touchstone, but even then, it’s rare.  I have never seen a Jason, 13th, Halloween, Hellraiser, Saw or any of those series.  I have seen and do like some of the classics: “Wolfman“, “Psycho“, “Jaws“, etc and I also enjoy “monster / SciFi” films: “Predator“, “Alien“, “The Birds“.  I’m not sure why I like some and not others. I guess it’s just me.
Anyway, this is actually a rom-slash / martial arts / action film.  It is a “take-off” on P&P, so I thought I’d give it a chance.
Lily James plays Elizabeth Bennet, Sam Riley plays Mr. Darcy, Lena Headey plays Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Matt Smith plays Mr. Collins, Jack Huston plays Mr. Wickham and Charles Dance plays Mr. Bennet.  I like Lily James and love Lena Heady.  James makes a surprisingly good martial artist actor.  I don’t know how much is actually James doing the fighting, but “her” portions looked great.  Headey plays her typically serious role, even when it’s in a ridiculous role, like this one.  (I love the eye-patch.)  Dr. Who, I mean Matt Smith is outstanding as the incompetent and obsequious Collins.  Riley is handsome and gallant enough as Darcy, but seems (to me) a bit too young (and movie handsome, not really ruggedly handsome).  He looks like he should be in a boy band instead of on a parapet killing zombies.  And, finally, I liked Dance as Mr. Bennet.  I haven’t cared for him as much in other roles (GOT and “The Imitation Game“), but I thought he fit in this role.
Between the two threads, P&P and the zombies, this movie is 90% predictable.  The 10% which was unpredictable was whether James, Headly and the other ladies could pull off the martial arts scenes.  They do and quite well, too!
As a P&P fan, my final recommendation is moderate to strong.  I liked the sets, the costumes and the martial art set pieces.  I enjoyed this movie as a different “parody / take” on P&P even though I didn’t care for any of the zombie portions of the film.  They were merely action figures inserted to give the main characters moving targets to slice and dice.  I watched this on my “On Demand” TV service.  I’m not sure if I enjoyed it enough to actually buy a copy if ever comes in to my price point (yeah, still $5).  Despite James and Headey, I’m not sure I’d pay for this P&P theme movie.  And the movie ends as a setup to a sequel (which I will probably miss).
Austenland (2013)
This movie is supposed to be a “rom-com” about a late-20’s young lady who visits a theme park dedicated to re-enacting Jane Austen period life, social settings and romance.  The problem is while there is romance, there is almost no comedy.
So, who’s in this movie? It stars Keri Russell as Jane Hayes (the Austen fanatic), J.J. Feild as Henry Nobley (kind of a Mr. Darcy who looks vaguely like Tom Hiddleston), Bret McKenzie as Martin (the love interest for Russell’s character in the park), Jennifer Coolidge as Miss Elizabeth Charming (I thinks she was meant to be the comedic character, but she is an offensive “rich, unread, ugly American” instead – but with a kind heart), Georgia King as Lady Amelia Heartwright (another offensive rich guest – also American), and Jane Seymour as Mrs. Wattlesbrook (the proprietor of the resort).  There are also a number of other characters who aren’t really worth bothering to mention.
Russell is a “girl-next-door” version of Michelle Pfeiffer.  To be honest, I thought Russell might be Pfeiffer’s daughter or much younger sister.  She is the second best thing in this movie.  Feild is the first.  He makes both an interesting Nobly (Mr. Darcy) and a likeable history teacher.  The only other “interesting” actor was Seymour playing a manipulative park director.  The camera (or director or makeup crew) was not kind to her in this film.  She looks old in her closeups – much more than the early 60’s she would have been when this was filmed / released.  And not, evil / craggy / old – just old.  Like I said, “interesting”.
Final recommendation: moderate (at best). I did like Russell and Feild and thought there was pretty good chemistry between them.  So, “rom” is the limit of this rom-com.  As a P&P fan, at least I can say I gave it a shot and watched it.
Thanks to any of you who made it all the way through this post / these reviews…
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On This Day In:
2018 Dead Red
You Ain’t Done Yet
2017 Just Because
2016 As Close As They Can Get
2015 And So I Blog
2014 Take Flight
2013 Contributing Joy
2012 More Than A Race
2011 Institutionalized Leadership

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An Interview With God”  (2018)  —  movie review
Today’s review is for the “religious” movie which ran in theaters for three days last year and which is currently appearing on Netflix:  “An Interview With God” starring David Strathairn as God and Brenton Thwaites as a religious reporter / journalist Paul Asher who works at a non-sectarian newspaper.  The other main characters are:  Yael Grobglas as Paul’s estranged wife: Sarah Asher, Charlbi Dean as Sarah’s sister (Paul’s sister-in-law): Grace, and Hill Harper as Paul’s boss: Gary.  Paul is suffering a crisis in faith after having spent an extended period in Afghanistan covering the war while embedded with combat troops.  Paul is contacted and agrees to three half-hour interviews with someone who represents himself to be God.  The “GOD”.  The interview sessions are to be conducted over three days and at locations specified by God.
The movie was sponsored by a conservative Christian who also paid to have the movie released nation-wide in a limited number of theaters – hence the limited three day run.  Now, I did not know anything about the sponsor until after I’d seen the film and was doing research prior to writing this review.  I gather both factors (limited release and sponsorship) contributed to the fact there were very few reviews of the film by “mainstream” film reviewers.  I saw the movie preview last year, but never got to see the film in the cinema.  When I saw it was running on Netflix, I thought I’d give it a look-see because I like spiritual films as long as they don’t try to beat me over the head with religion.  This movie is definitively Judeo-Christian biased, but it is surprisingly more philosophical than “religious”.  That is, it raises philosophical issues about God and the real world, but it doesn’t really try to convert you Christianity (which surprised me a little).
Of the cast, Strathairn is relatively well known actor (Best Actor Oscar nomination for his Edward Murrow role in “Good Night, and Good Luck“.  I have also seen and enjoyed his performances in numerous other roles in films and on TV.  Thwaites is an Orlando Bloom look-alike, whom I gather is coming up through the Hollywood ranks as a heart-throb.  I know Harper from his TV role in the series: “The Good Doctor” – and I like him in that series.  The two females are (were) unknown to me.  I felt all five actors gave very creditable performances in their respective roles.
It is difficult to say too much about the movie because to do so would be to give away plot twists and the movie has only recently come onto Netflix so it would be unfair to spoil the movie given its very limited release.  I will say it is a movie you have to both watch and listen to.  The few reviews I have seen seemed (to me) to miss a number of points which explained / clarified other portions of the movie.  Basically, they said: “What was this or that about?”  My response: “Did you watch the movie?”
So, is this a great movie?  No, but it is thought provoking.  Is it well written, acted, shot?  Yes.  Yes.  And, yes.  Is it a religious experience in and of itself?  Give me a break…  It’s just a movie.  Do I intend to watch it again?  Yes, as a matter of fact I do intend to and I’ve already spoken to two family members about it (recommending it to them).
Final recommendation:  Strong recommendation.  I like Strathairn’s acting and he’s good in this role.  I like thought provoking movies and this is one of those (for me anyway).  I tend to enjoy movies about faith and humanity and this deals with both.  At only about ninety minutes, this movie was actually a better investment in faith than attending Mass today.  As sacrilegious as that may sound, I can (in my own defense) only offer a poem excerpt:
God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
From the poem: “Light Shining Out of Darkness“, by William Cowper
You can find the entire poem here.
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On This Day In:
2018 History Will Judge Harshly
Father Time, Perhaps?
2017 Odds Are
2016 Prayer, Too
2015 History, n.
2014 See It Sometime
2013 Precious Friend
2012 It Couldn’t Be Done
Feeling Surrounded?
2011 Surprise!

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Personal Ads:  “Got a problem?  Odds against you?  Call the Equalizer: 212 555 4200.
Today’s reviews are for a movie and its sequel:  Equalizer (2014) and Equalizer 2 (2018)
Both movies star two time Academy Award winning actor Denzel Washington as the lead character: Robert McCall.  The character and stories are based on a moderately successful TV show from the mid / late 1980’s of the same name starring Edward Woodward as McCall.  McCall is basically a “hero for hire” and the show is pretty similar to another TV series I enjoyed from the same period called “Stingray” (see my review of that TV series here).  The main difference is McCall never really seems to ask for a payment, whereas “Stingray” asked for a favor some time in the future.  Anyway, in this version, instead of a geriatric Brit playing McCall, we have a geriatric American.
Equalizer (2014)  —  movie review
This movie is rated “R” for violence, language and implied sex.  Basically we have a normal looking man who has a history as spy / detective / electronics expert and martial artist.  He is “retired” from his official duties at “The Agency” by faking his death.  Whenever he sees someone being hurt or taken advantage of unfairly, he exacts his sense of justice on the bad guy.  He says he usually gives them a chance to do the right thing (mostly they don’t) and if not, well, they don’t usually live to regret it.
In this movie, McCall makes friends with a young hooker who is beaten and nearly killed by her pimp.  The pimp is part of a Russian gang, so McCall ends up having to bring down the gang, too.  There are lots of great fight choreography – particularly a scene which replays in slow motion.  On watching it, I was reminded of a similar “replay” technique / scene used in “The Last Samurai“, another action movie I also enjoyed.  The scene works because it demonstrates the “temporal shift” it is said happens to highly trained and skilled warriors / athletes in which they say time slows down for them as they fight / perform.  Unless you have actually been in that “zone”, it (the feeling) is hard to relate to, but once you have experienced it, you find an enjoyable sense of déjà vu when you see the feeling in film.  At least I always seem to.
If you are a fan of violent action movies (and I can be), you will enjoy this movie because it is literally a string of increasingly violent encounters tied together by a thread of a plot.  It works because Washington carries the hero’s role and the Russian baddie (Nicolai Itchenko played by Marton Paul Csokas) is equally believable.  As an aside, there is also a scene in which a personal item is stolen from a co-worker of McCall.  The item is recovered and McCall is seen wiping down and replacing a hammer at the hardware store shelf display.  There is no “action” at all, but you know the robber has just had a very bad day.
Final Recommendation: strong recommendation.  While the story is almost unbelievable, the hero and the bad guy both make the movie an enjoyable action film.  It is violent and not appropriate for pre-teens.
Equalizer 2 (2018)  —  movie review
Okay, let’s get this out of the way:  “Denzel doesn’t do sequels…”  What we have here is Denzel Washington in his first career sequel reprising his role as Robert McCall: a guy who goes around helping others and righting wrongs.  I don’t mean stopping jay-walkers and litterbugs; I mean Russian gangsters (in Equalizer 1) and here (in the sequel) rogue killers who work both sides of the political fence.  When an “Agency” asset is killed, a former top analyst is sent to make sure it wasn’t a “hit”.  When she gets wacked, something smells fishy in Denmark (actually Brussels).  Because the lady is a lifelong friend of McCall, he must avenge her death.  Oh, and he’s upset because he will only get to kill them once.
The main bad guy in this movie is Dave York (played by Pedro Pascal), who worked for and with McCall before McCall’s staged death.  York was not aware McCall is still alive and he and the rest of McCall’s “team” go private after McCall’s death.  Anyway, the team kill a bunch of people on assignment and then to tidy up loose ends and there is a big battle at the end which (of course) pits McCall against the team.  After tidying up their loose ends McCall gets asked: “Who are you Mr. McCall?”
Final recommendation:  Moderate to strong.  Again, another violent movie…  The sequel is just not quite as good as the first.  Yeah, I know, big surprise.  It’s well shot and reasonably well acted, but the bad guy(s) just aren’t as threatening.  I guess they are a little too “clean” as professionals and lack the intensity of the actors playing the Russian gang in the first movie.  If you are a fan of Denzel or of this genre, you will enjoy this movie – both movies, actually.  I did.  But, it’s really not quite as good as “1”.   There is talk of a “EQ3″…  We’ll see…  I think I would prefer a re-boot / prequel with a younger actor.
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On This Day In:
2018 Irreplaceable Sparks
2017 Saving For April 15th
2016 First Wish
2015 Tracing Shadows
2014 One Thing
2013 More Is Less
2012 The Screw-Up Gene

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I like rom-coms and I like fantasy movies.  Today’s reviews are for two movies which combine the rom-com and the guardian angel (fantasy) genres:  “Here Comes Mr. Jordan” and “Heaven Can Wait“.
Here Comes Mr. Jordan  —  movie review
This movie came out in 1941 and (as far as I know) was one of the first movies where the idea of an angel or guardian angel featured as a prominent plot point in the film.  The movie stars Robert Montgomery as Joe Pendleton / Bruce Farnsworth (a boxer and the “hero”), Rita Johnson as Julia Farnsworth (Bruce’s wife and “bad-guy 1”), John Emery as Tony Abbott (Farnsworth’s personal secretary and “bad-guy 2”), James Gleason as Max Corkle (Joe’s friend / trainer / manager), Evelyn Keyes as Bette Logan (the love interest for Joe / Bruce), Edward Everett Horton as Messenger 7013 (the angel in training) and Claude Rains as Mr. Jordan (the main angel in charge).
The premise is a convoluted “love will find a way”, “angels make mistakes too”, and “our fates are predetermined but the details are flexible”.  Basically, a boxer dies before his championship fight because the angel takes his spirit out of his body to avoid the person suffering the pain of death.  But, somehow, the person (Joe) wasn’t supposed to die and so he needs to go back to earth to complete his destiny (becoming champ).  The problem is his friend (Max) has had his body cremated so there is no body to return Joe to.  The head angel (Mr. Jordan) assumes control of the case and places Joe in another body of someone physically suitable.  The “someone” is Bruce who has been recently killed by his wife and secretary.  Blah, blah, blah, laughs ensue; the guilty are found out and love blossoms.  And, of course, Joe wins his title and lives happily ever after with Bette.
This is a black-and-white film which is overacted and simple to follow, but also genuinely funny and enduring.  I am quite certain I’d seen this movie in my youth, but I have no idea when it would have been.  I watched this with my wife, (who likes old movies but doesn’t normally like comedies,) and she both enjoyed it and actually laughed a couple of times.  You could knock me over with a feather…  Her reaction:  “This is the kind of movie I would have watched with my nana when I was young.”  Final recommendation: strong.  While not intended to be a “period piece”, this certainly is one – and it’s a pretty good one on that alone.  Throw in the rom-com and you’ve got a movie worth watching with your family.
Heaven Can Wait  —  movie review
This movie came out in 1978 and is a pretty straight forward remake of the original with minor character changes.  The movie stars Warren Beatty as Joe Pendleton / Bruce Farnsworth (a American football quarterback and the “hero”), Dyan Cannon as Julia Farnsworth (Bruce’s wife and “bad-guy 1”), Charles Grodin as Tony Abbott (Farnsworth’s personal secretary and “bad-guy 2”), Jack Warden as Max Corkle (Joe’s friend / trainer), Julie Christie as Bette Logan (the love interest for Joe / Bruce), Buck Henry as “the Escort” (instead of “Messenger 7013” – the angel in training) and James Mason as Mr. Jordan (the main angel in charge).  I have no idea why two Brits were chosen to play the main angels in both films.  I think it was for the accent – to make them sound more heavenly.  (LOL)
The premise(s) remain a convoluted “love will find a way”, “angels make mistakes too”, and “our fates are predetermined but the details are flexible”.  Basically, a quarterback dies before his championship game (the Super Bowl) because the angel takes his spirit out of his body to avoid the person suffering the pain of death.  But, somehow, the person (Joe) wasn’t supposed to die and so he needs to go back to earth to complete his destiny (winning the Super Bowl).  The problem (again) is his friend (Max) has had his body cremated so there is no body to return Joe to.  The head angel (Mr. Jordan) assumes control of the case and places Joe in another body of someone physically suitable.  The “someone” is Bruce who has been recently killed by his wife and secretary.  Blah, blah, blah, laughs ensue; the guilty are found out and love blossoms.  And, of course, Joe wins his Super Bowl and lives happily ever after with Bette.
This is a color film which is somewhat overacted (particularly by Cannon and Grodin – for laughs) and not as funny as the original (Warden isn’t as funny as Gleason), but it was nominated for seven Oscars (including Best Actor and Best Picture) and won one (not one of the main Oscars).  I saw this movie in my youth during its original release.  I did not watch this version with my wife who felt she didn’t want to “spoil” the memory of the original by watching the updated version.  Final recommendation: strong.  While not quite up to the original, it’s a pretty good remake.  And, again, a family film.
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On This Day In:
2017 All Greek To Me
2016 Judgment
2015 I Love Bacon, Too
2014 The Wee Bit
2013 Reading Rules
2012 Cadet Prayer
2011 Easy To Tell
2010 A NEW Lion In The Senate (Channeling Mr. Smith)
Inception Redux
A Quick Hit Of Stats

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Once Upon A Time In The West (1968)  —  movie review
OUATITW is a “classic” style “spaghetti” western directed by Sergio Leone who made Clint Eastwood a movie star with his “Man With No Name” trilogy.  This movie stars Henry Fonda in a role / type reversal as the movie’s main bad guy, a killer called “Frank”.  The movie includes Claudia Cardinale as Jill McBain – a New Orleans prostitute who comes out west after marrying a dirt farmer who has the foresight to buy land with the only available water in 200 miles; Jason Robards as Manuel “Cheyenne” Gutiérrez – a bandit who seems to get into and out of trouble for most of the movie, (kind of the good hearted bad guy); Charles Bronson, known only as “Harmonica” – not really a good guy, but the closest thing this movie has to one as he kills all the bad guys; and Gabriele Ferzetti as Mr. Morton – the background bad guy who hires Frank to force Jill McBain off the land, so he can take ownership.
I borrowed this DVD from my brother who claims it is one of his favorite Western genre movies of all time.  He also claims the Western genre is his favorite genre of all.  I don’t remember ever seeing this movie, so I brought it home for a look see…
My reaction: it’s good, but not great.  It’s long and I found it a bit confusing.  The movie tries to use flashbacks to explain things (particularly near the end), but it doesn’t do it well.  My brother says he remembers seeing a different version which has an additional twenty minutes and explains everything better.  Maybe, but I can only watch what’s before me…
So, does Fonda make a good baddie?  Does Robards play a convincing Mexican?  Does Bronson play a good Eastwood?  Is this a good Western?  Is this a good movie?  Three yeses and two noes.
Henry Fonda makes a surprisingly good “evil killer”.  He plays it straight and it works.  He’s believable.  Robards plays a terrible Mexican.  I didn’t even realize he WAS a Mexican.  I just thought Cheyenne was a nickname.  Even saying that, Robards plays a surprisingly great “good hearted bad guy”.  I like him.  He was threatening and likable (almost funny) at the same time.  Charles Bronson CANNOT play Clint Eastwood.  While the role was clearly written for Eastwood, Charles is just okay in it.  Not great, but okay.  And, finally, Claudia Cardinale is gorgeous.  I’ve heard her name before, but cannot honestly say I’ve ever seen her in any movies – even movies I’ve seen (LOL).  No, she is not believable in this role, but I think it would have been a tough role for any actress to pull off.  Having said this, she is good enough in the role it makes me want to see her in some of her other performances to see if she can act or if she’s just another pretty face who was okay in this role.
Is this a good Western and / or a good movie?  Yes.  To both.  Although it is LONG and a bit slow in parts, it is trying to tell a story and it mostly accomplishes that – and that (both, actually) in itself is pretty unusual for most Westerns.  I like gritty Westerns and this is one of those.  I like movies which have a story to tell and this one does.  I like movies where some of the characters evolve and some calcify, because that’s how people react in real life – and this movie shows this.  So, yeah, all in all it’s a good Western and a good movie.  It’s not Oscar material, but it’s an enjoyable watch.
Final recommendation:  Strong to highly recommended.  It’s no where near my favorite Western, but it’s a good movie and I really liked the good guy actor (Fonda) in this type reversal.
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On This Day In:
2017 Faith In Science
2016 What The World Calls
2015 Say What?
2014 Start Today
2013 Fly!!
2012 Greater Love
2011 Before

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Sicario (2015) — movie review
Today’s review is for the drug cartel crime fighting thriller, Sicario,  released a few years ago and which has a sequel just wrapping up in theaters now.  The movie title translates to “hitman” according to the opening credits.  It stars: Emily Blunt as FBI Agent Kate Macer; Antonio Banderas — just kidding — Benicio del Toro as Alejandro Gillick; Josh Brolin as CIA Agent Matt Graver and Daniel Kaluuya as Blunt’s FBI partner Reggie Wayne.  Gillick’s “character / role” is not entirely clear.  On the one hand, he is said to be an attorney who’s family is murdered by a drug cartel, and on the other had he is said to be a member of the Medellín cartel.  I think I would have to view the movie again to see which is true as multiple sources seem to disagree (Rotten Tomatos, IMDB, Wikipedia).  Really, he’s a combination of Paul Kersey (Death Wish) – vengeance / vigilante, John McClane (Die Hard) – one man against the gang / vigilante, and Frank Castle (Punisher) – super-efficient killer with multiple weapons / vigilante.
The basic plot is the CIA needs an FBI agent on a cross-departmental team to function on US soil.  Hence, they recruit Macer and Wayne to help “arrest” (i.e. track down and kill) some cartel leaders.  To do this, they pursue the cartel in both the US and Mexico.  Blah, blah, blah.  Shoot-em up.  Blah, blah, blah.  Feel sorry for Macer and Gillick.  Blah, blah, Gillick saves Macer.  Blah, blah, Gillick gets revenge.  Blah, blah, Macer let’s Gillick skate (to make a sequel).  Kind of a happy / unhappy ending…
So, is this a good movie?  Does it work as a thriller?  Is it realistic?  Yes.  Yes.  And, so-so.  I found the movie to be very interesting because it was the best depiction I’ve seen of night vision / thermal vision head gear.  The acting is solid and the characters are reasonably developed enough that you can start to feel for them.  The movie works quite well as a thriller.  The action starts strong with a pretty powerful (if gruesome) opening of the FBI breaking into a house full of dead bodies to arrest / kill gang members and free hostages and then it just goes from there.  Anyway, the Department of Justice wants to make a “bigger” difference in the drug war, so they join the CIA and DOD’s Delta Force to perform operations both in the US and in Mexico.  There are multiple action / set pieces and they work – in terms of both increasing theatrical tension and creating bonding of the law enforcement team (character development).
Is the movie realistic?  I do believe it’s realistic in terms of gang violence and military capability.  No.  I don’t believe it is realistic in the depiction of action.  The action happens the way we (as an audience) would like it to happen – person shot, person drops.  But, again, it’s only a movie, so I’m willing to cut Hollywood some slack.  They are trying to entertain us, not educate us.
The movie is rated: “R” and this is deserved due to the graphic depiction of gang violence.  Having said this, it shies away from the most graphic violence of Gillick avenging his own family by killing the drug lord (and his family first, in front of him).  Today’s post title is a quote of the final words Gillick says to the gang / drug lord.
So, final recommendation: strong.  The story is good.  The action and tension builds.  The characters / actors get developed during the film.  It has a satisfying (if not happy) ending.  With the proviso that it is not for the squeamish and is correctly rated as “R”, it is worth your time if you are into spy / crime / thriller / action movies.
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On This Day In:
2017 Wealth Within
2016 Soaring
2015 Gone To The Library…
2014 Choose To Lead
2013 Not Sent Yet
2012 Wall-Crawler Reboot
Learning To Count
On Worshiping God
2011 Emancipated Differences
2010 A Little More Technology, Please…

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